It’s an exciting time for the Dads In Business project as we ramp up our work with the University of Sheffield Management School and develop our research programme exploring the roles of the modern Dad and how effectively (or otherwise!) these roles are managed.
Our latest step in this process was to build out a focus group that explored key used that we would address in greater depth through contributions to the research.
Why is this research project important?
As I began the Dads In Business project I did some initial research around the context of the issue. I found some key headline stats that were recognised by organisations such as The Fatherhood Institute. This suggested that 78% of working Dads felt there was less support in the workplace than there was for the female counterparts. I felt it was important to raise the awareness and create where possible the conversations to start changing this assumption.
Our own research explores how Dads are getting on in a changed workplace and there are glaring opportunities to improve the workplace environment but also how Dads manage themselves and handle the roles they have in their lives.
What did we explore in the focus group?
Whilst it was impossible in the time given to discuss every question, I felt it might benefit to share here some of the topics that might have made the agenda.
Q. How do you feel when challenges from work appear at the same time as challenges and pressure at home?
Q. What is expected of you as a working Dad?
Q. Do you think it is possible to wear multiple masks and, in an ideal world, what type of Dad and leader would you be?
Q. How do you manage ‘me time’?
Q. Does your workplace or business actually know what you want to achieve as a working Dad both at home and at work?
We wanted to discuss a wide range of topics to help our colleagues at the University Of Sheffield steer as robust a research project as possible.
The weight of expectation is a challenging issue.
It sounded a simple question when we threw it out there to the Zoom crowd….what is expected of you as a Dad? But it seemed we opened up a really interesting topic for discussion – topics that are common also in the session we run as part of our 4-part series which introduces guilt as a topic. The rise in working Dad guilt is stark and perhaps this stems from the expectation us Dads put upon ourselves?
During our session that explores guilt we often open up the discussion to examine our reference points for what makes the perfect Dad? The 'should' gremlins creep in and this external reference that creates our own expectation can become a real challenge.
There were questions raised about whose lens we are looking through when we create our expectations, are our expectations implied or explicit, are they shared and discussed and are they agreed with those who matter most?
This measure of expectation is something I look forward to examining more as part of our work moving forwards.
A few other key highlights that stuck during our focus group session include…
✅ We can’t always be the finished product
✅ Be comfortable with the role and situation in which you find yourself
✅ Work harder as a team at home
✅ Striving for balance is real
It’s rewarding to me personally to have these Dads take time from their busy schedules to help guide and contribute to a much wider topic. It makes me very proud to be a part of this process and the continued feedback and input from Dads from across the UK continues to highlight the importance in developing the discussion.
Our work with the University Of Sheffield will help further engage the workforces and business community of the UK and beyond and I’ll keep updating the blog and web as we go!